British regulators have insisted that pilgrims this year should not pay unlicensed travel companies to avoid fraud. Outbreaks had closed the doors of travelling during the last two years, but now at least 30,000 people are expected to travel from the UK to Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah.
But according to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, some unscrupulous operators may try to take advantage of unsuspecting passengers regardless of the rules and regulations designed to protect holidaymakers.
The British regulator has urged anyone wishing to travel to make sure they book their Hajj packages through a travel agency with Atoll Protection.
ATOL, or Air Travel Organizer’s License, is actually a UK-based financial security scheme that guarantees passengers protection from the financial collapse of their respective companies. Under British law, all travel packages must be covered under the scheme.
Some companies will claim Atol protection but in reality, this claim will be false. Use the official ATOL website to test any company’s ATOL.
Many non-UK travel companies are offering Hajj Journey to UK residents but most of them are not protected by the scheme. Pilgrims must check to see if they are entitled to financial security if they are stranded abroad.
Pilgrims should also make sure that their Hajj package includes hidden expenses, including the Hajj visa, flight, and accommodation fees required to enter Saudi Arabia.
According to the Saudi News Agency, 1 million pilgrims will be allowed to enter Makkah this year, a significant increase over the last two years of epidemic outbreaks.
The holy pilgrimage, which is set to begin in July, will be open only to Muslims aged 65 and under. These people must first ensure their vaccinations against COVID.
Muslims coming from outside Saudi Arabia must first apply for a Hajj visa. The PCR test taken within the first 72 hours of the trip will be required to submit a negative result. If positive results come then performing Hajj will be a dream.
According to the Gulf newspaper, the protection of the pilgrims will be the priority of the Custodian of the two grand mosques so that more and more Muslims from all over the world can perform Hajj.
The Consulate General of the United Kingdom, Saif Usher, said earlier this month that he had discussed with Saudi officials the return of British pilgrims.
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UK regulators’ tips for travellers to Hajj:
- Check for ATOL protection: Check the ATOL logo in front of your travel company’s website, brochure or office.
- Investigate your travels: Some companies will falsely claim ATOL protection in front of you. But to uncover this fact, check the name of your chosen company on www.atol.org.
- Check that the received Hajj package includes a visa: Select only a licensed travel agent.
- Pay attention to hidden expenses: To avoid any surprises, you must check the flight and accommodation fees, such as baggage allowance and accommodation transfer. Check financial security when booking with non-UK travel companies:
Some non-UK travel companies have no real presence in any part of the UK but still offer Hajj travel to customers. And remember, most of them are not safe from ATOL. Only select such a travel agency after completing your research that fulfils your Hajj dream.